Vatican II's famous declaration that "the church on earth is by its very nature missionary" has often been taken out of context and used to support all manner of church initiatives. But, the conclusion of the statement—"since . . . it has its origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit"—is of monumental importance.
In The Way of Discipleship, theologian Anthony Gittins describes the eternal mission of the Trinity, historically brought "down to earth" in the ministry of Jesus, and then continued to the ends of the earth by those called and sent as disciples throughout future generations. Gittins explains that Christian discipleship must be the living out of Jesus' own example in many different times and places. He encourages people of all ages to follow the invitation of Jesus to be missionary disciples.
The Way of Discipleship explores several New Testament examples of Jesus' call and commissioning, distills the principles involved, and then recontextualizes the stories so that they pose a direct challenge to disciples today. In this way, Gittins builds up a picture both of "the Way" of Jesus himself, and of the way today's disciples can loyally follow his call to mission.
Anthony J. Gittins (1943-2023) was an ordained member of the Spiritan missionary Congregation who served for a decade in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He taught theology and anthropology for thirty years in London and Chicago and was the author of numerous books on culture and theology, mission, spirituality, and discipleship.